Originally posted at joshuastairhime.com
Potential reader, treat this post more as a diary entry than an attempt to convey a truth to you. It began in my typical fashion, addressing a listener who may not be there, but quickly became a verbal processing of internal though. I do welcome your comments, as I fight to understand peace more completely. What connects with your spirit? What thoughts strike you as inaccurate?
As I pursue peace, I usually end up stopping to ask myself what peace really is. Obviously if I don’t know what I am looking for, I will not know when or if I find it. As I look more and more deeply into the idea of peace, I seem to discover a new layer of meaning with each new look. If you had asked me two years ago how I would describe peace, I would have probably told you that peace is the absence of conflict. If you had pushed me to consider what self-peace was, perhaps I would have hinted at the idea of comfort. Being comfortable with who I am, and what I am doing could have easily been my description of peace.
In some sense, both of the above descriptions of peace are correct. I’ve discovered, however, that those descriptions are certainly not the whole story.
I’ve wrestled with this in the past, and I continue to wrestle with it now. How can one live a life of peace, when those around us are in peril? My own mind is often drawn to the plight of others caught in a military conflict, but it is broader than that. Just like I have a personal self-peace, each of us has that same potential. So how do we live peacefully in a world where people are treated poorly because of their skin color, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs? What about people who are oppressed by their views of their own self-worth? What is my responsibility to others around me?
Do I truly possess peace when others around me are living without it?
Is living a peaceful life a life of ignorance, a life of ignorant bliss? How else could our spirits be at peace with the tragedy surrounding us in the world? You don’t need to go far to find tragedy. Am I peaceful if I watch a child drown and do nothing to attempt to change the outcome?
Perhaps I have confused peace with comfort.
Comfort tells me to stay on the side of the pool, to not risk getting wet when I may not be successful in saving a drowning child’s life. If I passively watch a child drown, will I not be haunted by my inaction? Would I rather live life knowing that I tried to save the child’s life, but was unsuccessful, or would I rather live knowing that I chose comfort over action?
If I approach peace from this perspective, where does my personal responsibility end? Or should I be haunted be each thing that happens, by each choice I’ve made.
I do not have answers, but I will keep wrestling until I have them.